Coalition for Revolution (CORE) finds the insensitive increase in fuel pump price to N163.00 unacceptable. This was just two months after the Major General Buhari-led regime increased the price from N121.52 to N143.80 despite wide outcry. We demand an immediate reversal to N121.52. The regime will not do this except we all stand up and fight as we did in January 2012.
The regime was emboldened to carry out the new increase because we the people did not organise popular action after the increase in fuel price and stamp duty tax in July. That is also why it dared increase electricity tariff on September 1, despite earlier promises to stay action until 2021.
The aim of these economic attacks against poor people is to make the masses bear the costs of a general crisis of the for-profit system of the rich few. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed and sharpened the unsustainability of the capitalist system globally. The local and global elites will however do all they can to try make this unworkable system work, and that will be on our bare backs and blood, except we mount stiff resistance.
We recall that the APC government assured IMF in March that its regime will push through these unpopular austerity measures. We are witnessing a period like the introduction of the structural adjustment programme in 1986. We must mobilise and revolt as we did with the anti-SAP movement.
This requires rejection of all the anti-poor policies they throw at us, with demonstrable action beyond mere words. This is very important but is not enough. If we keep fighting each battle as single episodes of exploitation, the regime will keep coming up with several anti-poor policies for each one we force them to reverse, taking back what they are made to give with the left hand, with the right.
We must also reveal the systemic connections between all these economic attacks and unite the struggle into a revolutionary wave aimed at tackling our exploitation and oppression at the root.
There is no reasonable basis for continually saddling poor people with endless increases in cost of living. The problem is not lack of resources. The problem is that a few people are lavishing in the wealth that should be used to improve our lives and livelihood.
Security votes for the office of the president alone is a whopping N241.8 billion ($670 million) annually, according to the Transparency International and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). Apart from the presidency, governors, local government chairmen, heads of government parastatals and several others also get ‘security votes’, which is nothing but legalised corruption. And former governors, senators, local government council officials and other top public officers receive mindboggling amounts as “pensions”, after robbing us blind while in office.
The trade unions have an historical political and moral responsibility to do much more than condemn the increasing pauperisation of working-class people with anti-poor policies like increase in fuel pump price. As the primary defence organisations of the working-class, in their hands is placed a power greater than all the hoarded gold of the bosses.
They are dutybound to organise and unite working-class people to fight with mass protests and general strikes and demand drastic redistribution of wealth. Afterall, as the NLC motto goes “labour creates wealth”, why then are workers poor and the parasitic politicians and businesspeople stupendously rich? This is the time for the unions to act in the interest of their members and the entire poor masses. Failure to act is betrayal of the class they represent.
CORE will support every form of resistance and organise for mass action. We seize this moment to commend the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D which will be organising a mass protest on Tuesday 8 September demanding immediate reversal of the fuel price and electricity tariff. They will have the full support of CORE at the barricades.
CORE is mobilising for a nationwide protest on 1 October. After 60 years of Independence, our demands cannot be piecemeal. We stand for holistic, root and branch change to do away with the exploitative system of the 1%ers. They cannot be allowed to continue feeding fat at our expense. Government must be defunded.
We thus demand as follows:
- Immediate reversal of fuel pump price, electricity tariff and all other anti-poor people policies of the regime.
- Abolishing fat allowances of all elected and appointed senior public officials – none must earn more than the average salary of a skilled worker. And the laws providing huge amounts of “pensions” for governors, lawmakers and other elected public officials must be rescinded.
- Scrapping security votes for governors – every single kobo usually so paid must be put into a social security fund governed by representatives of trade unions, informal workers organisations, community-based associations, and other relevant civil society organisations.
- Guaranteed full employment by government with decent work and wages. All temporarily unemployed people must be paid unemployment benefits while government finds gainful employment for them.
- Immediate provision of emergency cash grants and stimulus package for poor working people in the informal sector who have been thrown into destitution with the pandemic confinement.
- Revocation of all IMF and World Bank debts – they have made more money from us than whatever they claim to have borrowed us (and which are stolen by government officials).
- Implementation of free and quality education as a fundamental human right and full respect for the independent students’ unionism – all rusticated student leaders must be recalled.
- Qualitative universal public healthcare is guaranteed with adequate funding and staffing. All elected and senior appointed public officials must be banned from access to local private or foreign healthcare delivery.
This is the time for us to take a firm stand on what we want for the future – more of such policies like increases in fuel pump price or a fight for our liberation waged by we the working masses ourselves. We must dare to struggle to dare to win.
Fight for Revolution Now!
Baba Aye Gbenga Komolafe